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December 4, 2023

Student Spotlight: Caroline Parente, '24, Brown University 

By Erin Conner 

Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness… she eateth not the bread of idleness… favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.- Proverbs 31: 25-30

caroline parente brown

 

The book of Proverbs, written well over two thousand years ago, captures a brief yet powerful description of a Godly or virtuous woman. Among other attributes, this description illuminates traits of entrepreneurship, hard work, wise time management, and service to others.  

Caroline Parente, a senior at Brown University and a leader in Christian Union Libertas, who will be entering investment banking post-graduation, is a young woman of such character.  

Parente's time at Brown has helped her to grow in her faith and Christian Union Libertas played a meaningful role. "I had never done a Bible study before coming to Brown. It is an amazing feeling to look back at the growth that Christian Union's Bible Courses have facilitated in my life. For one thing, I went from being hesitant to participate in them as a sophomore to enthusiastic about facilitating them as a senior," Parente says. 

Parente started co-leading Christian Union Bible Courses her sophomore year and now leads the study of Colossians with a group of freshman ladies. Parente says, "I learn so much from these freshman women as a facilitator of their Bible Course. This leadership opportunity has blessed me, and I hope it has blessed them."  

Sheri Casali, the ministry fellow at Christian Union Libertas, says, "the ladies look up to her and are growing mature in their faith on account of Caroline’s faithfulness." Casali continues, "Caroline has always been insightful and an encourager to all her peers. Caroline consistently seeks others' interests above her own. 'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others' (Philippians 4) comes to mind when I think of her character. She truly exemplifies Christ's servant heart." 

From family dinners to worship nights, Caroline found the Biblical spiritual disciplines that Christian Union embraces– frequent and fervent prayer, whole-hearted worship, deep immersion in Scripture, and strong community– to be life-giving. "Being a part of Christian Union has been an incredible journey. I do not know what my experience at Brown would have been like without it, " she says. 

In addition to growing in character during her time as an undergraduate at Brown, Parente's sphere of influence has also grown. God has blessed her with nation-wide influence. Parente currently holds the title of Miss Rhode Island 2023 and will be competing in the Miss America pageant in front of approximately 27 million Americans in January 2024. 

As Miss Rhode Island, through her community service initiative "InvestHER," Parente partnered with Brown University's Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship to connect female-founded businesses with VC and angel investors. In addition, she is designing a program for female high school students interested in business and finance across Rhode Island to gain access to related careers, scholarships, and mentorship.  

Her heart is to equip young women with the knowledge needed to make well-informed decisions about their future and their careers. 

Casali recalls that when Parente was competing for Miss Rhode Island, "we met for coffee and prayed together. In that prayer meeting, she chose to trust the outcome to the Lord and let go of all her own expectations. Her willingness to surrender to Him and accept His will was a witness to her maturity in the Lord." 

When asked what it means to be a woman of God, Parente explained that being a woman of faith is something she's recently been trying to define. "I know that being a woman of faith means being in a sisterhood of faith because we are meant to grow in community together. Sisterhood is important to me because I understand how valuable it is to have a group of women with whom I can have difficult conversations and find unconditional support." 

With the help of such support, Parente is gracefully managing a heavy load this academic year from writing her thesis to participating in state and national events, as well as completing a year of community service. Yet, in the midst of it all, she remains calm, finding time to take interviews to listen for ways the Lord is giving her opportunities to provide more encouragement and support to others. 

Interestingly, Parente does not seem to draw a stark line to separate the "sacred" from the "secular"– she seems to see how working in the world is, indeed, sacred work. This perspective is foundational to one's ability to transform culture for God's glory.  Transformation starts with each of us and the way we choose to live our lives before others: with integrity and Godly character, grounded in the spiritual disciplines needed to grow and stand firm in our faith, working hard to edify others because of the abilities and blessings we have been given from God. Her life communicates this truth with both strength and humility. 

Regardless of the title awarded to her in January at the Miss America pageant, the most significant title she will ever hold is "a woman of God." And regardless of where the Lord leads her next, Parente will undoubtedly influence many through her faith, her hard work, and her commitment to serve others with the love of Jesus.